Published in the IHRM Magazine
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing you are not the voice of your mind – you are the one who hears it”. Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul.
When Salovey and Mayer (1990) proposed that there was a set of social skills and abilities that people possessed, which were like (although different from) intellectual intelligence, it generated a lot of interest. This saw the rise in Emotional Intelligence as a topic of research with Daniel Goleman’s 1995 Bestseller popularizing the concept. Since then, the subject of Emotional Intelligence has grown and in the recent activities brought by the pandemic, it has found new meaning as organisations strive to maintain cultures that foster not only their growth but allow for better well being of their employees.
Emotional Intelligence can be described in many ways but this particular description makes one understand the effects of Emotional Intelligence. The way you show up …determines the way people feel. The way people feel determines the extent they engage…and that determines EVERYTHING about the outcome of that relationship.
Emotional self-awareness, or the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions, is a critical skill when it comes to growing your Emotional Intelligence. Some say that it is the gateway to Emotional Intelligence. Most of the decisions that you have made today, have been influenced or have completely determined by your emotions. Emotions affect the decisions we make; emotions affect our behaviour and ultimately performance.
Beyond just recognizing your emotions, however, is being aware of the effect of your actions, moods, and emotions on other people. Do you understand the IMPACT you have on others?
As part of a Journey towards growing my Emotional Intelligence and self- awareness, here are some of the things that I have been learning about this skill.
One: The Journey of Self awareness is greatly enhanced when Self Judgment ceases. Where we can be keen to observe so that we can understand. Rather than act as a god to our own lives, we need to look in with a genuine openness and acceptance.
Two: Be open to experience all kinds of emotions. Do not ignore, hide, belittle or put aside harder emotions. Guiding yourself through them makes you better at handling yourself.
Three: A good mood can be just as distracting as a bad mood.
Four: Check in with yourself. Check in regularly even when you don’t think there is a need to. Make this a habit.
Five: The benefits of Self Reflection are many; it can help us understand social cues, promote pro-social behaviour and allow for emotional regulation. But dwelling in Self-reflection to the point of self-criticism also has adverse effects on our mental health. Like Oscar Wilde Said “Everything in Moderation including moderation itself.”
Six: The Practice of self-awareness is not a linear, sequential process. It is an iterative process where we feed off other people, our environment and the events that shape our lives.
Seven: Growing your emotional vocabulary is essential. Being able to articulate what you are feeling, naming that emotion as you pay more attention to your thoughts and feelings is critical. Naming your emotions, according to a study done by University of California L.A., reduces anxiety, makes our emotions less intense and improves our ability to respond.
With the demand for Emotional Intelligence skills set to grow six times as we get more into AI and automation, growing your level of emotional intelligence is not just a nice thing to do. Reading the report made public by the Capgemini Research Institute on Emotional Intelligence, one begins to understand that this isn’t a skill that is only required in leadership. It is required at all levels in the work place. People are aware of the need to train in Emotional Intelligence but are not quick to invest the time and money required to grow this skill. And therefore, even if it makes sense to us that people with higher Emotional Intelligence are more productive, sell more, are better at handling clients, and are better at problem solving, we still do not adequately equate the resources spent with a rewarding Return on Investment.
And as Professor John Mayer put it, “Consider math ability. Each of us is born with some capacity to work with mathematics. But if we don't take the courses in school that are devoted to teaching subjects like algebra, we will have little capacity to come up with ways of manipulating variables and equations by ourselves. Similarly, with emotional intelligence there is a certain amount of teaching and tutoring that can be helpful. We can acquire knowledge in the area which will increase the effectiveness with which people use their intelligence,”